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Published: Thursday, 6/21/2007

Restaurant review: Sonny Berry s Bayshore Supper Club****

One visit to Sonny Berry's Bayshore Supper Club in Oregon is all it takes to hook you like a fish.

The venerable restaurant on the Maumee Bay offers a range of lunch and dinner possibilities, from steaks to seafood, but there's no need to meander through the menu trying to decide what looks good.

Smart diners will go right for the freshwater perch and pickerel fillets. Or the frog legs, tiger shrimp, Boston sea scallops, salmon, or tilapia, which the restaurant touts to the skies on the menu.

Everything else, although certainly filling and digestible, pales in comparison. The steaks are OK, the heaping meat loaf and turkey plates with mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn are bountiful, and the salads, with homemade dressings, are cold and crisp. Breakfast is served daily, and sandwiches abound.

To my mind, however, nothing beats the seafood, especially the yellow perch and pickerel, which has drawn birders, golfers, blue-collar workers, business executives, tourists, families, and retirees to the supper club for more than 20 years.

Sonny Berry, who bought the Bayshore in 1985, said the deed to his building dates back to 1917, and he believes it has always been utilized as a restaurant. Located out beyond Toledo Edison's generating plant, where Otter Creek Road becomes Bayshore Road, the unassuming eatery consists of a bar with four tables and two large dining rooms. Large windows offer a glimpse of Maumee Bay in the near distance.

Starters ($3.95-$9.95) include fried clam strips, coconut shrimp, and marvelous stuffed crabs with tartar and cocktail sauces in way-too-tiny paper cups. Soups ($2-$3), such as French onion and chicken dumpling, change daily.

The New York strip ($17.95) is the kind that cries out for steak sauce, meaning that it was on the skinny side and cooked more medium well than medium rare as ordered. Other broiler possibilities are pork chops, ham steak, T-bones and porterhouses, and liver and onions, all accompanied by a choice of salad, soup, potatoes, and other sides, plus dinner rolls, a basket of cellophaned bread sticks and crackers, and a nice surprise, a complimentary relish tray, to start the meal.

A $7.90 perch sandwich with cheese, French fries, and cole slaw hit the spot at lunch one day, but I recommend the perch dinner platter ($13.95) which includes not one but three large, tender fillets with a light, crunchy breading - scrumptious. Same with the pickerel, which can be ordered whole ($16.95) or fillet-style ($15.95). The fillets are so good, you may want to abandon knife and fork and use your fingers instead.

Dinner platters, incidentally, are available at lunchtime as well and include the aforementioned relish trays, which hearken back to a bygone dining era. The Bayshore's lettuce-lined tray typically includes sweet pickles, pepperoncini, green onions, gherkins, baby carrots, celery sticks, banana peppers, and a ring of green pepper crowned with a rosette radish.

To get to the Bayshore from downtown Toledo, cross the Maumee River to Front Street. Take a right on Millard Avenue, then a left at Otter Creek Road, which turns into Bayshore Road. The restaurant is on the left.

Contact Bill of Fare at:

fare@theblade.com



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